The Stanley Cup Playoffs are often referred to as the greatest playoffs in all of pro sports. 16 teams enter the tournament with the chance of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup after winning four best-of-seven playoff series. Crazy things can happen in these playoffs, and it is often the most grueling and intense for its players, coaches, and fans. The 2020 NHL playoffs will be no different.
One of the main things that make playoff hockey so great though is the fans. The atmospheres during games can be fun to watch and possibly be a part of, even if a smaller market team is facing a heavyweight. However, due to the circumstances of the Coronavirus, the NHL will be making modifications to allow a playoffs to be conducted. For one, 24 teams will be allowed to play due to an incomplete regular season. Also, the league will be moving the two conferences to a pair of hub cities due, so the concept of home ice advantage is all but gone.
It is unfortunate for all fanbases since they won’t be able to watch their teams at home, and certain fans can make for some very exciting hockey watching. That is why we will be making our picks for the top 10 fanbases that will be missed during the 2020 NHL Playoffs. For this list, we will be leaving all 24 teams in the expanded format under consideration. Also, not only will we be ranking the atmosphere in general, but we will also be considering a team’s circumstances regarding playoff droughts and the team itself.
Honorable Mention: Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets have a very underrated atmosphere in the grand scheme of NHL fanbases. While the cannon may irritate players, outside fans, and broadcasters at times, the Blue Jackets’ fans can very easily get under the skin of opposing players. The place can get really loud when the Jackets score a goal, no matter if they have a cannon or not, and the outcry of the “CBJ!” chants heading into the final minutes can send chills down the spine no matter the circumstances. That home ice was one of the main reasons the Jackets were able to get the job done against Tampa last year, and with the team facing another heavyweight in Toronto, that atmosphere would’ve been electric once again.
10. Montreal Canadiens
The holy grail of hockey will start off the top 10. The Canadiens are hockey’s oldest team, and with that they have very passionate fans spanning North America and the world. The Bell Centre also boasts a very festive, exciting atmosphere no matter the time, but the playoffs are when things get extra exciting in that building. From fans singing “O Canada” at the top of their lungs, the “Go Habs Go!” chants, and singing “Ole” at the end of every win, the fans care for their team and will alway root for their success. While Montreal may have been the lowest seed in the East, those fans still would’ve shown up and rooted for an upset against the Penguins, and that environment will be missed in the 2020 NHL Playoffs.
9. Arizona Coyotes
This pick may come as a surprise to some, but it’s possible that the Coyotes would’ve had a great playoff atmosphere for several reasons. For one, the team continues the tradition of a whiteout that the old Winnipeg Jets had before relocating to Arizona. While it may be slightly inferior to the new Winnipeg counterpart, it still is a fun time and the crowds can be very noisy as well. That atmosphere was on full display during their surprise playoff run in 2012. Also, the Coyotes are a team on upswing with burgeoning talent in Clayton Keller, Conor Garland, and Nick Schmaltz. The development of a young, playoff contending team has allowed the team to endear itself to the locals. The organization is finally starting to see profits and the highest attendance average its had since 2008-09. As a result, a young team with a fanbase that has proven itself to the league when the Coyotes were in the playoffs could’ve made for an exciting atmosphere, and it’s unfortunate it won’t come to be.
8. Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers have been a punching bag of the league for a large portion of the last decade or more. They’ve seen some pretty bad teams and it felt like this year would be more of the same. However, Dave Tippett has helped to coach the Oilers into a very solid team and they have a chance to make it back to the playoffs after a two year absence. However, the return of the Oilers to the postseason would’ve also likely meant the return of the “Orange Crush” from that postseason in 2017. That environment was very enjoyable to watch a game, and home ice was a main reason they were able to win their first playoff series since 2006. A team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would’ve also helped to electrify that building even further. As a result, even though Edmonton will be one of the hub cities for the 2020 NHL playoffs, it won’t be the same not seeing the loud sea of orange in Rogers Place.
7. Nashville Predators:
The Nashville Predators have one of the better fanbases in the league because they are also very vocal and rowdy during home games. The fans are able to get in the heads of any opponent, and the fanbase was one of the main reasons the Predators were able to go to their first Stanley Cup Final in 2017. The “(Insert goalie)! You suck! It’s all your fault!” chant is a very funny way to poke fun at the goaltender that let up a goal, and the “Nashville Standing-O” is always an amazing scene late during a TV timeout. The Predators have a very supportive fanbase, and Bridgestone Arena is always a hard place to play no matter when you visit. While the luster may not be the same as 2017, it is still a fun environment that will be missed this summer.
6. Chicago Blackhawks
Once the Blackhawks forged their dynasty in the 2010s, the Blackhawks fanbase has become one of the most passionate in hockey. They don’t call the United Center the “Madhouse on Madison” for nothing. From the fans cheering the National Anthem to singing along to “Chelsea Dagger” every time the Blackhawks light the lamp, there is something about the Blackhawks’ atmosphere that makes it enjoyable. When Chicago makes a deep playoff run, the United Center can get very loud, and that home ice has helped Chicago to win three Stanley Cup titles. Also, with the lowest seed in the West, Chicago will have something to prove in the qualifiers, and a fanbase as avid as the Blackhawks’ would have made for a hectic yet fun environment to help the Blackhawks silence the doubters.
5. Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes are in the midst of a renaissance thanks to new owner Tom Dundon and head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Ever since those two took over at the top and the “Bunch of Jerks” moniker was made famous, Carolina has reemerged as a playoff contender, and PNC Arena is now a very tough place to play. While the Canes had to face the Metropolitan Division champion Washington Capitals in round 1 in last year’s postseason, the home games for the team proved to be a big factor in pulling off the upset. Carolina won all 3 of their home games that series, and a game 6 win allowed them to go to Washington and finish it in overtime in game 7. The very next series, even though being underdogs against the New York Islanders, the Hurricanes took the first two in New York and closed it out at home. The support for Carolina has grown over the past year and a half, and that support leads to noise clocking over 110 decibels. As a result, Carolina’s home ice has proven to be an advantage for the team, and that atmosphere will be missed in the 2020 NHL playoffs.
4. St. Louis Blues
St. Louis has always been known as a very passionate hockey city. The team has consistently been near the top of league average attendance lists, and the Blues’ Stanley Cup run showed off the best of the fanbase. The place can get quite noisy during the playoffs, even during watch parties when the team is playing a road playoff game. The support for the Blues was incredible and expectations are high for them to go deep again this year. However, with the Blues fighting to retain their Stanley Cup title, their fans would’ve been even more active than last year hoping to will their team to a second straight championship. As a result, considering the Blues’ recent success, it’s a shame we won’t be able to see their fans cheer the team on as St. Louis looks to bring the Cup back once again.
3. New York Islanders
The Islanders are losers in this scenario for two reasons. For one, even if NHL fans heckle the team for having attendance issues, the fanbase supports its team with a lot of noise. The players and coaches always acknowledge when the “Old Barn” is rocking, and the Coliseum is regarded as one of the loudest buildings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Islanders make it. Having home ice in that building was one of the main reasons the Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. Even in Barclays Center, the fans can make something out of nothing with a solid environment despite a lengthy commute and worse sidelines. However, this would’ve been the first year full time playoff hockey would’ve been played at Nassau, and the team advancing to the second round and beyond with Coliseum ice would’ve been an amazing sight. As a result, with this year being the first year of a change in arena usage and an electric atmosphere, the Islanders can be regarded as a big loser in this scenario.
2. Boston Bruins
Boston has always been considered a sports town when discussing fanbases. The Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots always sell out home games, but home ice is considered a big advantage for the Bruins in particular. The Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy in the regular season, had a home record of 22-4-9 this season and were slated to have the road to the Cup run through Boston. The Bruins also have one of the biggest and most vocal fanbases in the league, and that has been a major factor in several Boston playoff victories over the past few seasons. Their home ice was very enjoyable to watch playoff games from last year during their finals run, but it’s unfortunate we’ll be without it for the 2020 NHL playoffs.
1. Winnipeg Jets
This choice is definitely a candidate for a top building in the league come playoff time. While the league was without the Jets for a few years, fans were hoping to see a team not only come back to Winnipeg, but also embark on a playoff run. The fans got their wish as the team will return to the playoffs for a third consecutive year, but this will be the first without the iconic Winnipeg Whiteout. While the tradition dates back to the old Winnipeg Jets and the Arizona Coyotes today, the Arizona counterpart doesn’t compare to the True North’s whiteout. Bell MTS Place is referred to as one of the smallest and loudest buildings in the league, and a sold out, playoff crowd can produce a powerful noise, sometimes up to 120+ decibels. As a result, the Jets flying into battle without the “storm” behind them is a let down, and the “White Noise” will be missed as it would have been the best atmosphere in the 2020 NHL Playoffs.
These were our picks for the top 10 atmospheres that will not be seen in this year’s playoffs. While it is unfortunate that the playoffs will be played without fans in all buildings, a few select teams and fans will be missing it a little more than others, and these teams were those that a majority of fans will miss the most.
Do you agree with our list? Leave a comment if you believe we missed a team on our list and why it should be there.